November 07, 2005
$1 Million Donation To Methuselah Mouse Prize
A rich person realizes he can't take it with him.
The volunteers , donors , and members of The Three Hundred
became even more certain of the Mprize's eventual success when the
prize to reverse the decay and debilitation of aging benefited from the
addition of a ONE MILLION DOLLAR cashier's
check from an anonymous donor (and - yes - the check cleared :-). This
donation makes the second major anonymous donation within the last few
weeks - these donors let us know that they didn't want to become the
"elephant in the room" instead preferring to direct attention to the
power of prizes and the Mprize in particular to achieve the nigh unto
impossible and to encourage others by their example. We would like to
publicly thank those who have supported the Mprize from the beginning
whether as volunteer, donor or member of The Three Hundred. It is
without doubt your tireless devotion and generosity that is breathing
life into this mission thus bringing us to a better place for all
tomorrow. Let's make it happen sooner. Add your pebble to the landslide
that will bury the suffering of aging and http://www.mprize.org/join us.
The Methuselah Mouse Prize is the premiere effort of The Methuselah Foundation™; a scientific competition designed to draw attention to the ability of new technologies
to slow and even reverse the damage of the aging
process, preserving health and wisdom in a world that sorely needs
it. Read More...
The Methuselah Mouse Prize (or Mprize) is a series of cash awards to scientists who develop ways to make a common lab mice live longer. The goal of the prize is to encourage scientists to develop biotechnologies that will demonstrate the practicality of life extension and that will also extend the lives of humans.
Consider what you spend money on. If you have a lot of discretionary income then ask yourself whether you'll get the most value it of it by such choices as spending on immediate desires or leaving it to your estate. Wouldn't it be better to spend it in a way that increases the odds you can become young again and live a longer, healthier, and youthful life? You can't take it with you when you die. Spend some to accelerate research to reverse aging and you'll be able to spend the rest in a very long future of youth.
The posts of blogger "Reason" played a key role in convincing the donor to pony up a cool one million dollars.
To the delight of the volunteers at the Methuselah Foundation, an anonymous donor has given $1 million to the Methuselah Mouse Prize, or Mprize for Rejuvenation, the scientific research prize aimed at bringing an end to the degenerations and indignities of aging. Volunteers for the Mprize couldn't believe it when they saw the size of the latest check: topping previous and exceedingly generous five- and six-figure donations, this was a check for $1 million out of the blue!
We stand within reach of a cure for human aging according to trailblazing biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey of Cambridge University, Chairman and Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah Foundation. Like de Grey, more and more are convinced of the power prizes have shown to make a difference to the future of healthy and longevity – and are putting their money where their hopes are!
Over the past several years, a growing band of enthusiasts - regular folk from all corners of the world have donated to the Mprize, a scientific research prize modeled on the extraordinarily successful prizes such as the Longitude Prize and the X Prize. The Mprize, or Methuselah Mouse Prize, rewards scientists who increase the maximum healthy lifespan by rejuvenating mice that are already in late middle age.
In early 2005, the Mprize hit its first million-dollar mark in pledges, entirely made up of small donations from people in more than 18 countries around the world. Today's anonymous donation will push the Mprize fund to nearly 3 million dollars.
The anonymous $1 million donor cited an initial skepticism – and then a growing understanding of the real possibility of curing aging in our lifetimes as his reason for making such a tremendous investment. He first learned about de Grey's work from the popular press. The donor then learned more by following the Fight Aging! blog (http://www.fightaging.org) and the online newsletter Longevity Meme (http://www.longevitymeme.org). Both sites explore the coming reality of life extension and how we are likely to achieve it. These blogs advocate de Grey's work and the Mprize in particular. In the Mprize, this donor saw a popular movement in the making, where every dollar in the prize fund represents a powerful voice, calling for the scientific community to take audacious yet practical steps towards real, working anti-aging medicine.
Why didn't he tell us his name? Like many who have donated, including the originator of a $125,000 grant donated earlier this year, he didn't want to become the news story. He wanted to make sure that the message was: End aging as we know it? A million times - Yes! The Mprize is an all-volunteer effort. All donations go directly into the Prize fund -- there is no overhead. This December, Mprize Three Hundred Members, the group of donors who commit to giving $1000 per year for 25 years, plan to celebrate the recent growth of the prize with a Three Hundred member dinner where the speakers will be Aubrey de Grey and Mprize donor Ray Kurzweil, author of The Singularity is Near
Ah, I suppose he thinks that he might not have to go!
It's great that people are catching onto the value of prize awards. It's certainly been a long time coming:
The M-Prize is a good model for any single-metric prize award.
I've modeled a prize after it called the C-Prize, which I believe is actually the most important prize award possible since it provides a much more rigorous test for artificial intelligence than the Turing competition.
Let anyone submit a program that produces, with no inputs, one of the major natural language corpora as output.
S = size of uncompressed corpus
P = size of program outputting the uncompressed corpus
R = S/P (the compression ratio).
Award monies in a manner similar to the M-Prize:
Previous record ratio: R0
New record ratio: R1=R0+X
Fund contains: $Z at noon GMT on day of new record
Winner receives: $Z * (X/(R0+X))
Compression program and decompression program are made open source.
Solving AI would profoundly advance the rate of all other technologies.
For a more rigorous treatment of why the C-Prize can solve the AI problem see Matthew Mahoney's comment on it:
Jun 17, 7:18 pm show options
From: "Matt Mahoney"
Date: 17 Jun 2005 20:18:59 -0700
Local: Fri, Jun 17 2005 7:18 pm
Subject: Re: The C-Prize
Hutter's AIXI, http://www.idsia.ch/~marcus/ai/paixi.htm makes another
argument for the connection between compression and AI that is more
general than the Turing test. He proves that the optimal behavior of
an agent (an interactive system that receives a reward signal from an
unknown environment) is to guess that the environement is most likely
computed by the shortest possible program that is consistent with the
behavior observed so far. In other words, the most likely outcome for
any experiment is the one with the simplest explanation, where
"simplest" means the smallest program that could model what you
currently know about the universe.
He gives a formal proof, but it basically says that the only possible
distribution of the infinite set of programs (or strings) with nonzero
probability is one which favors shorter programs over longer ones.
Given any string of length n with probability p > 0, there are an
infinite set of strings longer than n, but only a finite number of
these can have probability higher than p.
-- Matt Mahoney
"Solving AI would profoundly advance the rate of all other technologies." - yes, and sure enough, there is a non-profit set up for the express purpose of doing exactly that - http://singinst.org.
The questions I have about AI with regard to SENS and rejuvenation are:
1) Can we solve SENS without using AI? My guess is yes, we can solve the SENS problems without AI. At least we can do that for the earlier stages of SENS where we buy ourselves enough decades of life to have time to work on more and better treatments SENS treatments.
2) Could we more cheaply and quickly solve SENS by directly going after SENS or by first going after AI? Maybe we should go after microfluidics since it is a much more rapidly solvable set of problems than AI.
3) Should we go after nanotech as a more urgent or more solvable problem than AI? After all, nanotech will be a useful tool for many rejuvenation problems.
The biggest SENS problem is brain rejuvenation. We won't be able to replace the brain the way we will be able replace other organs. Once the problems associated with growing replacement organs are solved rejuvenation of the chest organ functionality will be possible.
We might need nanotech to do brain rejuvenation. At very least we'll need gene therapies with really excellent gene therapy delivery vectors. Can we solve brain rejuvenation without nanomachines and without AI?
Perhaps it is rational for a millionaire to donate in order to live longer because he "can't take it with him." On the other hand while I could easily afford the $1000 a year for the next 25 years, if I want to extend my own life I am better off saving the money for when the new technology comes along for real, at which point it will no doubt be very expensive.
Marcus Hutter has solved the general AI problem in theory (as of just a few years ago). This is momentous and has received far too little mind-share.
His "mathematical top-down" approach is precisely the way to go about solving the AI problem practically.
This means the relevance of AI to practical problems has to be raised.
The reason I came up with the C-Prize was due to the fact that just as with anti-aging and fusion technology, there are all-too-many proposed practical solutions for the big money to back rationally. The prize approach allows small labs to pursue small amounts of money for real measurable progress toward realizing the potential of Hutter's theory.
I'm not going to advocate shifting money from the M-Prize to the C-Prize based on Hutter's breakthrough but I will say that when there are so many goals being pursued it makes sense to put some small percentage of each contribution toward those goals to funding the C-Prize.
Its simple portfolio management.
Can we solve SENS without using AI? My guess is yes, we can solve the SENS problems without AI. At least we can do that for the earlier stages of SENS where we buy ourselves enough decades of life to have time to work on more and better treatments SENS treatments.